Posts filed under 'Working moms'

Fun with statistics

Dad's DayIn honor of Dad’s Day, I thought I’d pass these along:

HR Magazine: Flexible work schedules are the workplace benefit fathers appreciate most (53 percent), followed by telecommuting (34 percent), on-site child care (12 percent), and paid paternity leave (10 percent).

FOX News: More dads say they struggle with work-life balance than moms, found a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Adecco USA, a career-services consultancy. Curiously, a majority of men also said they would not take paternity leave if their company offered it.

BusinessWeek: In a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, employers cite child-care issues as causing more problems than any other family-related issue in the workplace, with increases in absenteeism and tardiness reported in nine out of ten companies. And 80 percent of the companies surveyed said that work days were cut short because of child-care problems. (Moral of the story: Give us flex work or give us death!)

New York Times: When it comes to U.S. CEOs, men still predominate. (Duh.) Even in the nonprofit sector, women make up just 29.6 percent of chiefs. But that looks like progress when set against the number of head honchos of semiconductor companies (3.1 percent) and aerospace firms (4.5 percent).

Downtown Women’s Club (press release): More than half of working women do not think that they are affected by the gender wage gap. (Newsflash: They’re dead wrong.)

PRWeb (press release): Nearly one-third of all married women in the United States now make more than their husbands, according to the Census Bureau.

The Economist: By 2020, more than half of the UK’s millionaires may be female.

Add comment June 16th, 2007

Crafty moms get mainstream props?

She's craftyCheck out this article on craftistas, mompreneurs, and Etsy. I thought I was reading Bust for a second, but no, it was the Seattle Times. Not that I’m complaining. Way to go, hometown paper!

Add comment May 29th, 2007

Retiring boomers = more flex work for moms?

SupermomThe impending wave of retiring baby boomers — which could spell U.S. workforce shortages — might force companies to offer increasingly flexible work arrangements to stay-at-home moms looking to return to work, according to a new article from PayScale.

Exciting excerpt:

“Employers will have no choice but to be more flexible. They will be offering opportunities for creative scheduling and … opportunities to work at home. There will be a whole restructuring of the way work gets done,” said Roberta Chinsky Matuson, principal of Human Resource Solutions in Northampton, Mass. “That will help moms who want to reenter the work force, but stay at home and work.”

I of course think flexibility is a must, and we’ll take it any way we can get it, asap. But I can’t help but think of all those Rosies flooding the factories during WWII, needed in the workforce only because so many men were in battle. Too bad it might take a major workforce shortage for more companies to offer employment policies that accommodate the fact that people have lives outside the office.

2 comments May 25th, 2007

Happy International Women’s Day

International Women's DayWelcome to March 8th, otherwise known as International Women’s Day (a.k.a. International Working Women’s Day). In honor of estrogen, I thought I’d direct your attention to “The Motherhood Experiment,” an oh so interesting New York Times Magazine piece by journalist Sharon Lerner on how family-friendly workplace policies correlate to population growth (or lack thereof) around the world.

This is not a pro- or anti-procreation piece. Nor is it an attempt to fan the flames of the mommy wars. It’s simply meant to point out that workplace policies may be affecting population growth, as women in the world’s wealthier nations seriously weigh how breeding might impact their careers and vice versa. I don’t know about you, but this is not something my mother mulled over before having my sister and me. But it’s certainly something I’ve weighed over the years.

But enough about me. Check out this kickass excerpt:

To the dismay of pundits and politicians alike, women in industrialized countries and elsewhere have been bearing fewer and fewer children. More than 90 states have fertility rates below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, and the trend, which began in the early 1960s, is already leading to fewer workers, graying populations and dire predictions about vanishing peoples. While scholars blame several phenomena, including greater access to birth control, later marriage and a drop in what one researcher calls “hopefulness about the future,” many researchers agree that at least part of the problem is due to the particular burdens women face in the work force. If becoming a mother requires a woman to take a huge financial and professional hit, the thinking goes, she will be far less likely do it.

Could it be, then, that easing a woman’s ability to hold a job and raise children simultaneously will nudge her toward having a bigger family? At least 45 countries in Europe and Asia are betting on it, having instituted government programs to maintain or raise their fertility rates. Contrary to the rhetoric of many family-values champions, their example suggests that the promotion of larger families and the promotion of women’s careers may go hand in hand.

Read the rest here. And if you want to add your two cents to the discussion, comment away.

6 comments March 8th, 2007

Speaking of sick days…

sick dayLast week Charlene asked how freelancers deal with sick days. (Answer here.) If you think self-employed people are the only working stiffs who have it rough when they’re sick, you probably didn’t see the ABC news report on Friday about how 59 million U.S. workers have no paid sick days and 86 million get no paid days off to care for a sick kid. A juicy nugget from the piece:

Of the 20 most competitive economies in the world, according to research by the World Economic Forum, the U.S. is the only one not to require businesses to provide paid sick days.

What’s more, according to this NewStandard report, the shortage of sick days hurts women the most and hits part-time workers the hardest, given that only one in six of them gets paid sick days. Behold:

The [Kaiser Family] Foundation found that 49 percent of working mothers report they must miss work when a child is sick with a common illness, compared to 30 percent of men, and half of working mothers do not get paid time off spent caring for a sick child.

None of this is surprising, given our country’s crappy work-life balance offerings. The good news is that change is afoot. San Francisco now requires businesses to grant paid sick days, and according to ABC news, “similar bills are pending in Madison, Wisconsin, and in the states of Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont.” Congress is even holding hearings on a federal mandate for paid sick days.

What do you think? Have you ever gone to work with a fever or brought a sick child to work because you needed the cash? Should smaller businesses that squawk that paid sick days hurt their bottom line be bitch-slapped? Should the government foot the bill for workers who have the flu? Do tell.

7 comments February 27th, 2007

Our workplace policies suck

LynetteIn case you didn’t get the memo, allow me to break the news to you: A new study by Harvard and McGill University researchers found that out of all “wealthy countries” in the world, the United States offers by far the crappiest family-friendly workplace policies. Meaning our maternity leave, paid sick days, and support for breast-feeding pales in comparison. This recent Associated Press article about the study should sufficiently sicken your stomach.

The biggie is of course the tidbit that “America is one of only five countries out of 173 in the survey that does not guarantee some form of paid maternity leave; the others are Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea.” Nice.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Happy, well-treated workers = employee loyalty = less turnover = more money for CEOs (who on average make 262 times the salary of an average worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute). So wise up, head honchos, before you lose all your good workers.

For more juicy stats on how badly America sucks at accommodating its working parents and caregivers, check out Moms Rising, where you’re bound to be appalled into action.

1 comment February 11th, 2007

Flex, baby, flex!

flexThis comment thread reminded me that I had yet to post about a cool study released last week from the Simmons School of Management in Boston, about working moms who successfully negotiated flex jobs without giving up any pay. An uplifting excerpt:

A full 88 percent said flexible work arrangements allowed them to continue working full-time despite managing complex personal lives.

Contrary to accepted wisdom, researchers said, employees using flexible work arrangements tended to earn the same as those on regular work schedules. About 85 percent of the survey’s respondents were responsible for at least half of their household incomes.

This is great news. Even better would be if such fair, workable flex policies trickled down to the lower-paying, lower-level jobs so many lower-income mothers fill.

The study also reiterated a key point that groups like Moms Rising have been saying all along:

…more than 60 percent of the survey’s respondents said they were more loyal to employers offering flexible schedules, telecommutes, and other options.

Are you listening Wal-Mart?

Add comment January 23rd, 2007

Debunking those pesky career change myths

While we’re still in new year territory, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a little myth busting. If you long to give your job or career a facelift but find yourself riddled with more excuses than the Bush administration, this list — modified from a 2006 Seattle Times article by yours truly — is for you.

Myth: I should do something practical that comes with a fancy title and fat paycheck.

Okay, and I should wear makeup and skirts and try to not swear so much because that’s what “ladies” do. Not. Whose life are you living — yours or your parents’?

Myth: By the time I pay my dues in a new career, I’ll be well over 30, 40, even 50, and too old to start at the bottom.

But you’ll be happy.

Myth: I can’t start a new career now. I’ve already invested so much in getting where I am.

See above. Otherwise, vow to never whine about how you hate your current career again — for the next 20, 30, 40, or however many years you have till retirement.

Myth: I need to succeed before I breed. Once I’m raising kids, it will be too hard to zoom up the ladder or change fields.

Harder, yes, but not impossible. I’ve interviewed plenty of moms who changed careers and/or went solo after having kids, a number of them without a spouse or money in the bank as a cushion. In fact, mompreneurship may be the way to go, given all the workplace bias against mothers out there. (I’m not a mom, so I welcome the moms reading this to weigh in with their two cents.)

Myth: I can’t afford to live on less money.

Life is about choices. Your choices: premium cable TV/new shoes/$15 lunches with coworkers, or a lower-paying but infinitely more rewarding job. (Hint: I don’t miss HBO, that extra pair of black boots that could be collecting dust in my closet, or those greasy, overpriced lunches.) Besides, a starting salary isn’t forever.

16 comments January 11th, 2007

To breed or not to breed?

storkOooooh, interesting Modern Love by relationship author Wendy Paris in today’s New York Times. The essay starts like this:

I don’t know how I got to be so old without having children. When I was 28 and my cousin had her first child, at 31, I thought, “I certainly won’t wait that long.” But then my freewheeling, career-centric life lasted another decade.

And while the piece is more a discussion of the trials and tribulations of trying to conceive when pushing 40 (which, in my extended social circle, is nowhere near as old/rare/daunting as Paris makes it sound), it touches on the always relevant dilemma of whether to spend your most fertile years building a career, building a family, traipsing around the world (or at least around the neighborhood), or all of the above.

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means advocating women ditch their day jobs in favor of dirty diapers. Nor am I a militant disciple of Linda Hirshman, insisting that every last woman work outside the home lest Betty Friedan roll over in her grave. I don’t give a poop where in the mommy/careerwoman spectrum others fall, as long as they don’t try to push their decisions on me. (For the skinny on women who agree, see Judy McGuire‘s hilarious piece, “Newborn Free,” in the current issue of Bust.)

I know it’s old news, but I (still) find this conundrum fascinating, especially because everything I’ve read on the mommy/career dilemma points to thirtysomething women weighing the work/family balance issue much more heavily than their male counterparts. Probably because in the majority of North American families, the moms are still the ones punching in for the second shift at home. And because in a majority of families, not working outside the home is not a financial option for mothers (or fathers). And because, well, we’re the ones who have to carry the suckers around in our bellies for nine months and suffer the career hits at work, due to workplace biases.

So, people who read this blog but have yet to comment, what do you think about starting a family earlier vs. putting it off to focus on your career, creative pursuits, travels, et cetera? What do you think about doing both at once and trying to strike a balance between the two? How about skipping the whole conception thing, living your independent life to the fullest in your twenties and thirties, and then adopting in your forties? Opting out of motherhood altogether? If some of you comment, I may be persuaded to reveal where I fall within the mommy/career/juggling act spectrum (she goads).

12 comments November 26th, 2006

Trophy husbands

Trophy huzzyThe UK Sunday Times ran an endlessly amusing article yesterday, “Trophy Husbands,” about women breadwinners and their underemployed and/or “house manager” husbands. According to one UK survey, 39 percent of women in that country who work full time believe that they earn more than their partners — “believe” being the operative word here, because as one headhunter quoted in the article says, “You could probably get more people to talk to you on the record about how often they have sex.”

The article goes on to say that 1.8 million women who work full time in the UK earn more than their male partners. What’s more, the Office for National Statistics reports that 14 percent of UK men now work at home (i.e., change diapers all day), compared with just 8 percent of women. And evidently the times, they are a-changin’ so much that we now get to witness a surge in male gold diggers, underappreciated househusbands, and women leaving their husbands for their male nannies.

Of course, the crux of the article lies with this statement:

It’s clear that both men and women are struggling to deal with these altered dynamics.

Meaning, men are the new women. Or maybe women are the new men. Or now anyone can be overworked and underappreciated. Or act like a total sexist ass.

Growing pains aside, cultural shifts like this thrill me to no end, especially when they bring women closer to wielding the same power in the business world as their male counterparts and earning the same salaries, if not more. And especially when they help some underappreciative men see what goes into running a household and an army of rugrats from dawn till dusk.

And I’m sorry, guys, I don’t mean to smirk a little at some of the “My! How the tables have turned!” tales in the article, but I can’t help it. It’s kind of like the first time a boyfriend who was more domestic than me whined, “I cook for you, I clean for you, and what do I get in return? Zero appreciation!” I have to confess, I was so giddy over this role reversal (probably because I watched my dad come home from the office and ask my working mom “What’s for dinner?” all those years) that I threw a dishrag at my poor underappreciated hausfrau boyfriend, asked him to drape it from his waist like an apron, and begged him to repeat the statement.

Needless to say, I didn’t get any nookie that night.

2 comments November 20th, 2006

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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